Drones

Must Read

Lawfare: The Effectiveness of Drone Strikes in Counterinsurgency and Counterterrorism Campaigns

Author: James Igoe Walsh

"While drones have attracted considerable attention, we know little about how effective they are as tools of punishment and deterrence. In particular, it is not clear how, if at all, drones differ from other technologies of violence, what experience with broadly similar technologies in past conflicts suggests will be the likely consequences of drone strikes, and what systematic analysis of the available evidence suggests about the effects of the drone campaigns. This monograph seeks to address these open questions."

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Human Rights Watch: Between A Drone And Al-Qaeda

"Should the United States continue targeted killings in Yemen without addressing the consequences of killing civilians and taking responsibility for unlawful deaths, it risks further angering many Yemenis and handing another recruiting card to AQAP."

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Amnesty International: Will I Be Next? U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan

"The cases in this report raise serious concerns that the USA has unlawfully killed people in drone strikes, and that such killings may amount in some cases to extrajudicial executions or war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law. Like other forces operating in the Tribal Areas, the USA appears to be exploiting the lawless and remote nature of the region to evade accountability for its violations."

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Must Read

GQ: Confessions of a Drone Warrior

Author: Matthew Power

"For decades the model for understanding PTSD has been 'fear conditioning': quite literally the lasting psychological ramifications of mortal terror. But a term now gaining wider acceptance is 'moral injury.' It represents a tectonic realignment, a shift from a focusing on the violence that has been done to a person in wartime toward his feelings about what he has done to others—or what he's failed to do for them."

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Primary Sources

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Countering Terrorism: Drone Strike Inquiry

The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Countering Terrorism, Ben Emmerson, released an interim report on his study of drone strikes and targeted killings on October 17, 2013. The study, which began in January 2013 and will issue a final report in 2014, reports on the use of remotely piloted aircraft in counter-terrorism operations.

See more in Global; Drones; Human Rights

Article

Walking Loudly and Carrying a Big Stick

Author: Micah Zenko
Foreign Policy

A divergence of opinions between males and females is an "enduring characteristic of polls on the use of military force, regardless of the weapons system employed, military mission undertaken, whether the intervening force is unilateral or multilateral, and the strategic objective proposed," says Micah Zenko. Citing polls from the early 1990s to today, he investigates why this persistent difference in opinion exists and what it may mean for U.S. foreign policy.

See more in United States; Defense Strategy; Defense Technology; Drones

Op-Ed

If Trayvon Were Pakistani…

Author: Micah Zenko
Foreign Policy

Following President Barack Obama's remarks on the Trayvon Martin case, Micah Zenko highlights the inconsistency in Obama's policies towards justice. Although the president has stated in reference to the case that it is wrong to profile individuals based on their "appearance, associations, or statistical propensity to violence," and the use of lethal force cannot be justified as self-defense unless there is reasonable grounds to fear imminent harm, those are the exact foundational principles of U.S. signature strikes.

See more in Pakistan; United States; Drones; Ethnicity, Minorities, and National Identity

Foreign Affairs Article

Why Drones Work

Author: Daniel Byman

The Obama administration relies on drones for one simple reason: they work. Drone strikes have devastated al Qaeda at little financial cost, at no risk to U.S. forces, and with fewer civilian casualties than many alternative methods would have caused.

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Foreign Affairs Article

Why Drones Fail

Author: Audrey Kurth Cronin

Drones are not helping to defeat al Qaeda and may be creating sworn enemies out of a sea of local insurgents. Embracing them as the centerpiece of U.S. counterterrorism would be a mistake.

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Primary Sources

European Commission: Roadmap for the Integration of Civil Remotely-Piloted Aircraft Systems into the European Aviation System

In July 2012, the European Union requested that the European Commission study the future of RPAS in Europe and how to integrate civil and commerical remotely-piloted aircraft systems (RPAS, a type of unmanned aircraft system, also called drones) into the European Aviation System and to prepare regulation for implementation by 2016. The commission released a roadmap in June 2013 and, on April 8, 2014, sent to the EU recommended actions for implementing regulation on civilian drone use. The European Commission also requested a report from independent organizations to study privacy concerns associated with civil use of drones.

See more in EU; Drones; Technology Transfer

Op-Ed

Confront and Confuse

Author: Micah Zenko
Foreign Policy

In response President Obama's recent speech about drones Micah Zenko writes, "What matters now is whether the Obama administration will actually tell Congress and the American public how it is conducting targeted killings."

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Op-Ed

How Barack Obama Has Tried to Open Up the One-Sided Drone War

Author: Micah Zenko
Financial Times

Micah Zenko examines U.S. President Barack Obama's May 23, 2013 speech on drone strike and counterterrorism policies. "The enduring impact of Mr. Obama's speech will not be what he says, but whether the new policies are reflected in how drone strikes are conducted, and whether his administration will finally and faithfully engage with the public, more than a decade after the operations began," Zenko writes.

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Op-Ed

Talking in Circles

Author: Micah Zenko
Foreign Policy

Micah Zenko explains why the speech made by Harold Koh, former state department legal adviser, earlier this week is nothing more than a reiteration of the "fundamental myth of the Obama administration's targeted killing program."

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Op-Ed

Outsourcing Lethality

Author: Micah Zenko
Foreign Policy

Micah Zenko explains why critics of U.S. targeted killing policies should not overlook "similar attacks conducted by allies and partners who receive U.S. money, weapons, or actionable intelligence."

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Ask CFR Experts

Is using drones against terrorists cheaper than using special forces?

Asked by The Universal Human and Civil Rights Union, from Brooklyn, New York

The Obama administration has increasingly relied on drones in its counterterrorist operations. And, as I explain in a recent CFR report, U.S. special operations forces are doing more things in more places than ever before. The heavy reliance on both drones and unilateral commando raids needs to be reassessed.

Read full answer

See more in United States; Drones; Special Operations